Posted by on Jun 28, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Our Mission and Our Challenge

Welcome to the 4th Sunday after Pentecost. Dear Lord…we have been learning about how you instructed the disciples as they were to go out to minister to the people in Israel and bring them to your truths. Be with us as we, too, have been called to bring people to you for the transformation of the world. It seems to be a difficult task right now, O Lord…but we know you are with us. You will strength us. You will help us bring your love to our world. Be with us this morning and every day, Lord as we meet your challenge and work to bring people to your love, forgiveness and grace. Amen.

Our gospel reading for today is from Matthew 10:40-11:1. In this portion of Matthew 10, we find Jesus instructing the disciples on the importance of welcoming people into their world. It makes no difference what size this world is…the importance is that the disciples welcome people into their world….the people they are welcoming will also be welcomed into God’s family, that includes God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is telling the disciples and us, that everyone can offer hospitality and be welcoming. We do not have to be missionaries…we welcome people as we are. So…let’s look at what “real hospitality” is. This is accepting a stranger into our own home and our lives. Think about that. Real hospitality is accepting a stranger into our home and our lives. I’m sure you can all think of a time you have done this. How did you feel? What was the reaction of the person you welcomed?

There is the word “patronage” to describe what Jesus is talking about. This definition is not about shopping at a certain place, this is not backing a certain person or party to get favors, etc. The Biblical definition we are considering is a relationship between social unequals where all people are welcomed, regardless of looks, culture, experiences, careers, education, etc. Jesus means we are to welcome and be hospitable to ALL people.

Have you ever been in line to purchase something and suddenly you are told that everything you have in your cart has been paid for? What was your reaction? Were you even able to thank the person who paid for your items? How about when you were in line at McDonald’s to get a lunch or snack and found out that it had been paid for when you reached the window to pay? What did you feel at that time. Have you done the same thing for someone? This is the type of hospitality our Lord was talking about. In other words, in Jesus’ definition of hospitality, reciprocation shows the same hospitality given to each other. To put it more emphatically, God has given us love and forgiveness and we are to give it to other people in His world.

In the time we are currently experiencing, I know how hard it has been to not be able to see people in person. I guess that is why I like to call what we are experiencing “physical distancing” as we still need to be social and communicate with people. What stories can you think of that you have heard of kindnesses people have offered to others? Didn’t it make your heart feel warm when you heard of the feeding and care for first responders and medical personnel? What about all of the reaching out our churches have done to church members in ways we never thought possible before? We have been “socially together” while physically apart. These are stories and experiences we need to remember and build on.

I read a fairly disturbing story on Facebook that was posted by a graduate of Upper Iowa who played basketball and volleyball and grew up in Guttenberg. She was in a business in her home town when a young lady started berating her for the George Floyd incident, the rioting, the protests, saying “all black people are criminals”, etc. This young lady is bi-racial and has grown up in Guttenberg. The discussion got rather heated and the other gal started fighting…so that the two of them ended up on the floor. The two of the were separated and a man started yelling about, “what is wrong with your kind of people?” This man had known the girl and her family for many years. He threw a drink in her face and walked out…only to come back in the business to find the two gals fighting again and ended up kicking the bi-racial gal in the face…so that she got a black eye and a ruptured blood vessel. This man was forced to leave the building. The story was posted to tell the whole story as the man who attacked was posting it without stating he kicked the girl or threw a drink in her face or called her names. She later said she posted the story to have the truth out in the open, but also that she wanted people change their behavior and that commenting and acting aggressively and negatively doesn’t heal…it just spreads hate.

You say…that’s horrible…but what does it have to do with hospitality and welcoming people. Well…think about it….instead of the people talking and listening to each other, they caused disturbance and hate. Did the incident cause recognition for needed change? Absolutely.

Think of this, “We have something to say to the world…that will be heard ONLY if it is said out of love. Love for people and Love for Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.” Hospitality is a way of life, a way of living and a way for being in this world.

Have we thanked the person that did a kind thing for us? Have we REALLY thanked the person, from our heart, and not thought of a more judgmental thing in our own heads about the person? In other words, “that was nice, but he could have afforded more?” “That was thoughtful, but why couldn’t it have been done earlier?” Do we quietly accept people who are wearing protection masks, or only judge those who don’t and make sure everyone knows our disgust?
All of these examples are part of showing kindness and hospitality, but do they have the love of Christ as the center? Hospitality is the core and defines us.

How do we make contact outside of the church building that shows the love and peace of Christ? How do we welcome people in and outside of our own home? Does it reflect the love and peace of Jesus Christ?

Jesus is telling the disciples, that regardless of the way, person or amount of hospitality, their actions will never be forgotten and will always be part of God’s family, or their own reward for showing hospitality and kindness. Then…he sends them on their way to accomplish their mission. He doesn’t give them a “script” to follow. He wants them to proclaim the good news through their lives, their speaking and their attitudes and the look on their face.

Dear Lord…you have been training your disciples these past weeks, but you have also been talking with us about what we can do to spread your love for other people and welcome all into your kingdom. May we have open hearts that cause us to open our mouths to spread your word. May our actions, our words, our attitudes and our very faces show we are your people…to help minister to the people in your world.

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